Filing a claim for an animal bite is often a difficult decision. But of millions of people bitten by dogs and other animals every year, many of them require medical attention. While most dog bite cases are settled out of court, victims are often friends with the dog owner or fear something could happen to the animal, so don’t pursue a claim. However, they may be entitled to compensation for injuries and medical expenses.
To file an animal bite claim, you need to do the following:
Seek Medical Attention
Immediate medical care is needed to prevent the injury from getting worse. The victim may need stitches or surgery, and antibiotics may be prescribed to avoid infections. A physician’s diagnosis and notes are proof of your injury and treatment, so keep all receipts and relevant documentation.
Document the Incident
Obtain the name, address, and other information from the dog owner. Take photographs of your injuries as well, so you have a visual record of when they occurred and how severe they are. Your attorney will use these to build your claim and, if necessary, fight it in court.
File a Dog Bite Report
Filed with your municipal government, a dog bite report provides the documentation needed to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. Once the report is filed, you can obtain important records. These may include information about the dog owner and the dog’s history, including whether it is vaccinated or has been involved in similar incidents. The report also provides an official paper trail for authorities to use.
Contact your local animal control agency for help filing a dog bite report. Depending on your area, the agency may be part of the police department, health department, or humane society. Once you know the appropriate agency, check its website for information on how to file a report. There may be an online form, or you might need to call, email, or fax the agency.
Report the Animal Bite to Law Enforcement
Filing a report triggers an investigation and enables local authorities to enforce state and local laws. The dog owner may face legal consequences if, for example, the dog is categorized as dangerous and the owner doesn’t have the proper insurance. Failure to comply with an investigation can result in fines and criminal penalties.
Contact Your Attorney
If you’ve been injured due to an animal bite and require medical treatment, an attorney will help you file a claim. To do so, they must:
- Prove the dog owner is liable for damages. This requires showing they owned the dog and the plaintiff was bitten by the dog, injured by the bite, and suffered damages as a result. You must also prove you had a right to be in the area where the incident occurred. The dog owner won’t be accountable if you were trespassing.
- Choose a legal strategy based on the dog-bite statute in your state. A common law rule may also be used, requiring proof the owner knew or should have known the dog was likely to cause such an injury. You can also sue for negligence if you can’t prove the owner knew the animal was dangerous, if there’s no dog-bite statute to use.
- Work within your state’s statute of limitations. In California, this is two years from the date the dog bite occurred. A judge will dismiss the complaint if it is not filed within this period.
- Determine the value of your claim to negotiate with insurance companies, adding up emergency room and doctor visits, time off work, cost of medication, and any other dog bite injury-related expense.
Apply for Legal Funding
Filing an animal bite lawsuit comes with many challenges, including the time it may take for your case to settle. But before you receive a settlement or while you are waiting for settlement funds, you can apply for non-recourse legal funding. At FCA, we provide a fast and easy application process. Once approved, you can receive funds within 24 hours, with no hidden fees or out-of-pocket expenses. To learn more, apply for dog bite accident legal funding or call 855-870-2274 today.